Last night, in an interview with CNBC, Carl Icahn had this to say about fellow hedge fund manager Bill Ackman and his recent bid with drugmaker Valiant Pharmaceuticals for Botox maker Allergan:
"We have our differences, but I never said he's not a smart guy. I think the concept of this is good. I hope it works out better for him than Herbalife did, and I think it will...There's nothing wrong with making a bid for a company and using someone else's funds."
Those of you who've kept up with Icahn and Ackman's relationship know that Icahn saying he never said Ackman's "not a smart guy" represents a complete 180 from his comments about the Pershing Square manager in the past. Those include but are not limited to:
- To the New York Times: "How many times have judges been wrong? How many people have gone to the death chamber because they’re wrong? Ackman is dead wrong."
- On BloombergTV: "...it’s no secret I don’t like Ackman"
- Also on BloombergTV: "I have no respect for him and I don’t like him and that’s not a secret."
- In the same interview on BloombergTV: "I dislike the guy, I don’t respect him, I’ve done business with him and he wasn’t forthright…that’s my opinion."
- Via press release: "To get the record straight, I never asked Ackman to be my friend."
- In the same press release: "Bill Ackman has recently stated 'Carl Icahn is a great investor.' I thank him but unfortunately I cannot return the compliment."
- On CNBC: "I was minding my own business in 2003 and I get a call from this Ackman guy and he’s like the crybaby in the school yard. I went to a tough school in Queens and they used to beat up the little Jewish boys and he was like these little Jewish boys crying saying the world was taking advantage of him. He was almost sobbing. And he’s in my office talking about this Hallwood deal and how I can help him. It’s like in the old song, I rue the day I ever met the guy."
- In the same interview on CNBC: "He’s the quintessential example of if you want a friend, get a dog."
- CNBC: "I wouldn’t invest with [Ackman] if [he] were the last man on earth."
So to hear Icahn not only describe Ackman as not not smart but to compliment his "concept" was more than a little bit surprising. But why the about face? It's possible it had something to do what happens at 2:58 here:
So how does this new, intimate knowledge of the Icahn playbook apply to you? It all depends on what you want. One little compliment? Buy him a drink and let him take a few sips. A letter of recommendation for to Princeton for your kid? That's a whole martini, and none of that Smirnoff shit either. Grey Goose. An endorsement of your hedge fund? You better be convincing him he doesn't need to do "just one more song" and putting him a cab.